I know its been awhile since I posted new work of my paintings. I have been on a valuable journey that I am so blessed and grateful to be on. A journey that I feel is so important to those that call themselves, artist. Building knowledge of Self is work that requires time, alot of patience and more than anything, faith. Building a relationship with your inner Self and the Creator reveals your own voice that uniquely nourishes your creative expression. Truly, I can only say, that I am so blessed.
As a woman that expresses herself in color, I am intrigued with how women of different cultures express their femininity. Living in a society where the extent of what and why a woman wears what she wears, doesn’t go beyond the pages of celebrity filled magazines and trends dictated by blogs and designers, I am interested in something deeper.. something of cultural value and expression when it comes to femininity.
This is a painting of a woman from the Ndebele tribe of South Africa and a Padaung woman in Northern Thailand. ‘Padaung’ is a term for ‘the group whose woman wears the brass neck coils’. Both of these women wear neck rings for the purpose of cultural identity and pride.
Padaung women in Burma have suffered opression at the hands of success regimes of that country for decades. Forced resettlement and labor, incarceration, denial of political representation and citizenship status rights among other human violations have led thousands of Padaung women to move into Thailand. There are many explanations as to the origin of the tradition of neck rings, but its mainly for the purpose of aesthetic value. The beauty and grace of a long neck is exemplified by the heavy neck ring depicting both wealth and beauty. With their suffering reality, wearing the neck rings reaches beyond the purpose of beauty but a feminine expression that embodies cultural pride and strength in unity.
Ndebele women are well known for their artistic talent, especially with regard to their painted house and colorful beadwork. Multicolor wall paintings are painted by using their fingers. Same patterns and designs can be recognized on their aprons. In early history, patterns are believed to have sacred powers and to have been made in response to demands by ancestors. Also like the Padaung women, owing to the difficult circumstances of their people, the paintings became an expression of both cultural resistance and continuity.
Each unique pattern of each household were created but the woman of the household.. It represented long family traditions and pride. They become a communication system that “speak” to the families conveying self identity, personal prayers, values and emotions. “Through her paintings the artist is saying that she is a good Ndebele wife who keeps proper and well decorated home.” This traditional duty allowed transfer of patterns strategies from mother to daughter.
I truly believe, we as women in American society have alot to learn from these women. I throughly enjoyed this project and expressing with vivid colors that embodies the spirit and strength of their culture. I wanted to portray a different definition of beauty shared by these two women.
There is a common thread running through the Ndebele and Paduang woman that goes beyond the tradition of neck rings, aesthetics, trends, and even culture. It is a common spirit.. a feminine spirit that maintains, grows, evolves on many levels submerged in the harshest conditions and thrives in an environment that doesnt protect them.
We must remember how we are all interconnected. One’s struggle is all of our struggle, their victory is our victory… One spirit. One memory. Love. Now thats revolutionary.